Ashtanga Primary with Sharath Jois

Last week I attended a full led Ashtanga primary class with Sharath Jois in NYC. The class was part of the grand opening of the newest Jois Yoga Studio in Greenwich, CT. Easily a couple hundred yogis were in attendance; enough to fill the entire gymnasium floor of the Chinatown YMCA. Mostly NY Ashtangis plus a number of travelers like me. As we arrived, we dropped our bags in the back, laid out our mats and began chatting it up with each other. Among the mats I noticed some yogitoes (mine included) and NO PROPS.

Having never practiced Ashtanga with Sharath, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of how much time he’d spend talking with us before starting; however, given that primary would take up to 2 hours I was sure he’d keep it brief. And that he did. Sharath and his mother, Saraswathi walked into the room and everyone rose instinctively and silently assuming samasthiti. Sharath smiled, greeted us softly and said something I could not hear but that made those who heard him chuckle. The room softened. Just as I silently prayed for the acoustics to kick in Sharath began the Ashtanga opening mantra, call and response and the acoustics gods delivered.

From what I’ve seen of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois on You Tube and such, he had an endearing sense of humor. This gift has been passed on to Sharath. Somehow in the fifth navasana and in tolasana he managed to make us laugh. If you “like” Jois Yoga on Facebook, you’ll see that most everyone had “yoga faces” in tolasana. I define a yoga face as a smooth forehead, eyes probably closed and slight upturn of the lips during a particularly intricate asana. Yep, that picture was taken at about was at count 9 and a half. Amazing. Just one thing though… if you do come across this picture (property of Jois Yoga so I decided not to include it in my blog) you’ll see that I do not have yoga face. An medial meniscal tear I got by walking in heels on my way to church made tolasana a challenge, and my ego showed up in that shot. Not pretty!

At the end, Sharath gathered us for a brief talk and he spoke of yoga?cittav?ttinirodha?, the gift of the practice his grandfather brought to the west, the patenting of yoga and his hopes that given his demanding teaching schedule that he would return to see us again. We met him with blissful agreement, appreciative gazes, nods of understanding and hope. The talk was not long, for it was Saturday and Greenwich was surely calling, as was the New York Yoga Journal Conference, bus departures and Saturday friends and errands. Posted by Jessica – 200 RYT Vinyasa